On Saturday, Syracuse had their biggest test of the season thus far on the road against #1 ranked Louisville. The Cardinals had only lost an early season matchup against Duke going into the game. The Orange were also without James “Jimmy Southland” Southerland coming off the bench, who is still indefinitely suspended for academic reasons*.
Syracuse jumped out to a quick start taking an 11-3 lead. This was followed by some MCW turnovers and a 25-8 run by Louisville. Carter-Williams performance this game highlighted the newfound duality his play. He came out of the gates this season guns hot, averaging 10+ assists and could do no wrong. Jay Bilas couldn’t put him on enough NBA point guard prospect lists. But then Bathrobe-gate happened and there was a noticeable difference in MCW; more ill advised shots, more turnovers, less assists. By the end of the first half, this was his line: 5 pts on 1 of 3 shooting, 4 assists and 6 turnovers.
At halftime the game was tied at 38, which was entirely due to Brandon Triche’s incredible performance. In the first half he racked up 18 points on 7 of 7 shooting. His 3 point shooting barrage kept the game from getting out of hand when the Orange trailed by 9 midway through the half. Only turnovers haunted Syracuse, as they shot better from the field and 3-point range and outrebounded Louisville in the first half.
Louisville quickly jumped out to a 10-2 run to start the second half, and the Orange continued to trail until they took a 64-62 lead on a Carter-Williams three with 5:30 to go. At this point in the game, MCW had 12 points on 3 of 9 shooting, 6 assists and 8 turnovers. He seems to slowly be morphing into Scoop Jardine 2.0, where you either love him or hate him. He has the ability to make you yell both “NO!” at the TV with your hands on your head and “YES!” with both fists raised, all within seconds. There is no denying his talent, but there is also no denying his inconsistency and dubious decision-making at times. After a timeout on a crucial possession of the game, the ball was passed back and forth between MCW and Triche, never advancing beyond the 3-point line, ending in a forced, missed three from Carter-Williams.
The weird—and impressive—thing about this game was the Orange’s ability to hang-in despite turning the ball over so many times. If anything, this is a fantastic sign. They dug in and fought on the road against a very good team, without their second leading scorer, and with their point guard playing like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Lord & Taylor. Triche showed seriously senior leadership by putting the team on his back when they needed to be carried. The ESPN headline will tell you that MCW is “Mr. Clutch.” I will not lie: Carter-Williams did totally redeemed himself in the final minutes of the game. He came up with a crucial steal, which turned into a fast break dunk, giving the Orange the lead—but he also went 2-4 from the line in the final minute of the game. It may only be fair that MCW gets all the credit, though. If Syracuse lost, he certainly would have gotten all the flack. Love him or hate him, it seems the Orange’s success or failure rests on his shoulders.
* Is it just me or is it unfathomable that Paul Harris never was on academic suspensions? I bet if you went back and checked some of those records, Dugga (Harris’ self-approved nickname) would be putting up a Blutarsky 0.0 GPA without question.
– Where was Pitino’s cocaine white suit?
– Refs were really bad both ways. The call that comes to mind was when Keita punted the ball out of bounce and Syracuse somehow still retained possession.
– I thought MCW broke his face after that breakaway dunk in the final minutes.
– Gorgui Dieng had 5 blocks—but blocks isn’t the right word, they were disgusting rejections that made Jeremy Grant consider donning the family rec specs.
contributed by Alex Cartini